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Hostess jailed for underage party

A former Haverhill woman who allowed an underage drinking party in her home -- leading to the death of a 16-year-old boy -- was sentenced yesterday to a year in prison after she acknowledged providing alcohol to a minor, prosecutors said.

A judge in Haverhill District Court sentenced Nancy St. Jean, who now lives in Lawrence, to serve six months of a one-year prison term and three years' probation, prosecutors said. She also was fined $2,000.

"This case once again illustrates that underage drinking is a serious public safety issue which can have devastating consequences," said Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett in a statement. "This sentence should serve as a warning to adults who would consider hosting or allowing underage drinking parties at their homes."

On Dec. 12, St. Jean allowed about a dozen youths to drink at her home, prosecutors said. Sometime after midnight, Michael Berry, a night-school student at Haverhill High School who worked at a local McDonald's, was asked to leave the party. Afterward, the youth, who was drunk, smashed his fist through a window, cutting himself, and then disappeared, prosecutors said.

His body was discovered more than a day later, on the front steps of a nearby home, where residents apparently did not use their front door, police said.

An autopsy found Berry had died of blood loss and from exposure. Berry's relatives did not return messages seeking comment last night.

"I think it's unfortunate all the way around," said Don St. Jean, Nancy St. Jean's husband, in a telephone interview. "I know there was a life lost, but it's just unfortunate all the way around."

Judge Robert Brennan set several probationary conditions, including that St. Jean remain alcohol-free, submit to random tests, keep alcohol out of her home, undergo substance-abuse evaluation and treatment, perform 200 hours of community service, and take parenting classes, prosecutors said.

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